A Labour party chief is backing calls for an Online Sales Tax to help “level the playing field” for struggling town centres.

Lawyer Hugh Goulbourne, chair of Huddersfield and Colne Valley Co-operative Party, is urging local businesses to support the push for a tax on internet sales to boost town centre shops.

The Government is currently consulting on the tax which would raise money which could be used to cut business rates for high street retailers.

Mr Goulbourne, who was on the Labour shortlist to stand for election as the first Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Our high streets are the beating heart of our community, where we shop, go out and meet friends, do our banking and have fun.

“But increasingly much-loved shops and businesses are under threat. They face unfair competition from internet giants who don’t necessarily pay their fair share of tax, face often challenging business rates, face increasing competition from online-only businesses, and in the last two years have seen footfall drop as we’ve dealt with the pandemic.

King Street, Huddersfield

“That’s why Huddersfield and Colne Valley Co-operative Party has been working with the council to campaign to support local businesses and why we are asking local businesses to join us in calling for an online sales tax.

“A modest tax on online shopping would raise money which could be used to discount business rates for retailers which need a presence on our high streets.

“It would begin to level the playing field between shops and internet giants and support a renaissance of our town centre.

“We in the Co-operative movement in Huddersfield are pleased that Government is finally consulting on an OST.

“We are responding to the consultation and would encourage local shops and businesses to do the same before the deadline on May 20.”

The consultation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/online-sales-tax-policy-consultation